Thursday, January 31, 2008

2321 Locust for Sale

Another opportunity for a firm wishing to be a part of the burgeoning loft district, 2321 Locust is listed for sale at $1,484,000. The building offers 20,000 sf on each of the first two floors and 5,150 sf on the third and fourth floors. It features indoor parking, an interior loading dock, a drive-in door and the option for a rooftop deck.

This building is adjacent to the recently completed Westgate Lofts and across the street from marketing firm The National System's headquarters. As the loft district begins to expand west of Jefferson, this area will only become more and more attractive as a place in which to live and do business.

The listing agent is John Warren of CB Richard Ellis - (314) 655-6062 or

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

60,000 sf

Let's take a look back at Stinson Morrison Hecker's decision to leave downtown St. Louis for Clayton. The firm was in the market for 60,000 sf of space, but unfortunately, their options downtown were fairly limited. A quick check of downtown office space revealed the following results:

Met Square:

Met Square would have come close to meeting Stinson's requirements, with 57,951 sf available on the 6th floor at $22.00 psf.

1010 Market:

10th Floor - Full floor - 17,896 sf
11th Floor - Full floor - 17,896 sf
12th Floor - Full floor - 17,896 sf
13th Floor - 10,379 sf

That makes over 64,000 sf on four contiguous floors at just $16.50 psf.

500 N. Broadway:

8th Floor - Full floor - 18,920 sf
9th Floor - 18,844 sf
10th Floor - Full floor - 18,920 sf
11th Floor - Full floor - 18,920 sf

That's a total of 75,604 sf of contiguous space on nearly four full floors at the bargain-basement price of $14.50 psf. Not considered class A space.

A few other options include Pyramid's One City Centre (scheduled for renovation), Kevin McGowan's Ballpark Lofts at Cupples Station, although it could be a while before any of those three buildings are renovated, and the Sherwood Medical Building at 1915 Olive (143,024 sf available at $18.50 psf), but that building may be too far from the heart of the CBD for most law firms' tastes.

Could this be a sign that downtown could be ready for a new speculative office building?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lawrence Group Acquires Austin Tao

The Lawrence Group has acquired design firm Austin Tao & Associates. Austin Tao's 22 employees will relocate from 2101 Locust to the Lawrence Group's existing office space in the Security Building at 319 N. Fourth Street.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Littler Mendelson Opens St. Louis Office

Yesterday I was reading a press release announcing that San Francisco-based Littler Mendelson, the nation’s largest employment and labor law firm, has opened an office in the CityPlace office complex in Creve Coeur. I began writing a blog post on it for today, expressing my disappointment that despite the fact that Littler Mendelson's offices in comparable cities (Indianapolis, Denver, Columbus, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, K.C., etc.) were all located in those cities' CBDs, they chose a suburban location for their office here.

However, this morning's Post-Dispatch yielded this encouraging quote from the office's managing shareholder, Hal Wellford:

"Our plan is to be (in Creve Coeur) about six months. Ultimately we want to be back downtown."

Now that's what I like to hear!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stinson Leaving Downtown

As reported in the Post-Dispatch this morning, Stinson Morrison Hecker will be leaving downtown this spring, shortly its lease in the Deloitte Building expires this summer. The firm merged with Blumenfeld Kaplan & Sandweiss, which is located in Clayton, and the combined firm will be located in Blumenfeld's current building.

Apparently the firm looked at more than 20 properties in the area for the 60,000 sf it requires.

Blumenfeld Kaplan & Sandweiss was listed as the 15th largest law firm in the St. Louis Business Journal's Book of lists with 51 attorneys while Stinson Morrison Hecker was 26th with 26 attorneys.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Writer's Block

While I attempt to update this blog every day, I'm suffering from a bit of writer's block right now.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Downtown Lease Roundup

A few recent leases downtown:

Newburger Vossmeyer renewed its lease for 2,804-square-foot at the Chouteau Center, 133 S. 11th St.

Luxco, Inc. leased 11,000 sf in the Hammermill Lofts in Cupples Station.

Manpower International, Inc. renewed its lease for 2,503 sf in St. Louis Place, 200 N. Broadway.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ludwig Lofts

Craig Heller's LoftWorks has recently finished its renovation of the former Ludwig Aeolian piano showroom at 1004-1006 Olive. The building now features a mix of retail and office space along with 14 apartments.

Allstate Insurance, Ebersoldt & Underwood Architects, Signature Studio Photography, Tower29 Media Development and Where Magazine/St. Louis Bride Magazine have signed on as office tenants, and a bridal shop has opened on the first floor.

There is one remaining office suite available for lease at $13.25 psf. For more information contact LoftWorks at (314) 241-6700.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Downtown Crime Drops in 2007

Some good news on crime from the Downtown St. Louis Partnership:

Downtown crime figures for the year show an overall decrease of 15.8 % compared to 2006. One of the most significant drops was in car cloutings, both in Downtown and in Downtown West (Tucker Blvd. is the statistical boundary between the two areas).

The Chouteau Center - 133 S. 11th

One of the beneficiaries of the new garage at Tucker and Clark is this little guy, the 37,037 sf Chouteau Center at 133 S. 11th Street. The garage will be built directly to the west of this building, which is owned by the City of St. Louis Treasurer's Office.

The entire 10,400 sf second floor and 1,380 sf on the fifth floor are available at $13.50 psf. With its close proximity to all of the downtown courthouses, it's the perfect building for a small law firm.

According to city records, the Chouteau Center building was constructed in 1920, so underneath its "updated" facade, it likely looks very different. The building's common areas were remodeled in 2002, but its overall curb appeal would be easily improved by replacing the overgrown bradford pear trees that dominate its ground level with gingko trees or some other species more suitable for use as downtown street trees.

The leasing agents are Jeff Kaiser and Tom Ray of CB Richard Ellis - (314)889-1500

Monday, January 14, 2008

2217 Olive Gets a Reprieve

It looks like the little building at 2217 Olive may not be coming down after all - the Preservation Board has decided to deny the demolition permit. Thanks to Barbara Manzera, Claire Nowak-Boyd and Michael Allen for testifying against the building's demolition.

For more information on the Preservation Board's recent meeting, visit the Landmarks Association's web site.

Signs of Life at the Gill Building

For the first time in quite a while, there are signs of life at the Gill Building at 7th and Olive. The lights on the first floor have been turned on, and there is a "For Lease" sign in the front window. It's nice to see this beautiful little building finally being marketed.

The listing agent is Stephen F. Bahn Commercial Real Estate Services - (314) 849-5858


Friday, January 11, 2008

New Garage at Tucker and Clark

The city Treasurer's Office will break ground today on the construction of an 8-level, $16 million parking garage on the vacant lot at the northeast corner of Tucker and Clark. The garage will house 542 parking spaces and will feature 10,000 sf of street level retail space. The additional parking should help the marketability of nearby office buildings and Cupples Station developments, while serving visitors to city hall, the federal courthouse, and Cardinal and Blues fans as well.

The retail space will lease for $15 psf. Ben Friedman of CB Richard Ellis is the leasing agent.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2222 Olive Listed for Sale

Built in 1928, the former railroad hotel at 2222 Olive is currently listed for sale for $1.7 million. The building is currently used as 100 single room occupancy apartments renting for $70 week and features retail bays on the first floor. It's just a block from the Tap Room and other exciting developments in Downtown West and a short walk to A.G. Edwards/Wachovia and other employers. It could easily be repurposed as larger apartments/condos or office space.

The listing agent is Robert Austermann of Realty Executives - (314) 457-1010.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Post-Dispatch Printing Building

One of downtown's more curious buildings is the former Post-Dispatch printing building at 1111 Olive. This 100,000 sf building was built in 1942 and has an interesting art deco facade. Most of the ground floor is used for parking, and while the exposed parking garage may not contribute much to the streetscape, it is a nice amenity for tenants.

The building has sat vacant since losing its primary tenant, the United Way, who leased 60,000 sf there before moving to its current home at 910 N. 11th in the Convention Plaza office complex.

Most recently, the building had been mentioned as one of the candidates for Emmis Communications' new offices and studios for KSHE, KPNT, KHIT and KFTK. Also under consideration are the Park Pacific and Cupples Station. Among Emmis' requirements are exterior signage opportunities and parking for the radio stations' van fleet, both of which are provided by 1111 Olive.

Emmis currently leases 20,000 sf at the Powerhouse at Union Station. They plan to spend an estimated $5 million to build new glass-enclosed studios that will allow pedestrians to look in on live radio shows in progress.

No formal announcement has been made yet.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

1409 Washington Sold

The 35,000 sf building at 1409 Washington was recently purchased by Terry McDonald, owner of TCM Realty, for $2.2 million. The top two floors are currently vacant, but McDonald plans on making improvements with the hope of attracting professional firms and possibly a restaurant. The building marks TCM's first project in downtown St. Louis.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Herzog Crebs Signs Lease at Bank of America Tower

Corporate law firm Herzog Crebs LLP has signed a seven-year lease for 22,130 sf (the entire 14th floor, I believe) in the Bank of America Tower at 100 N. Broadway and will take occupancy in September 2008. The firm is moving from its current space in One City Centre.

With 25 attorneys, Herzog Crebs is tied for 28th on the St. Louis Business Journal's listing of the largest law firms in St. Louis.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Millennium Center Sold

According to the Business Journal, the Millennium Center at 515 Olive has been sold to Oliver Nassimi for $4.15 million. The building is currently 50 percent vacant, so hopefully Mr. Nassimi will aggressively market its space in order to maximize the value of his investment.

The Millenium Center's tenants include Evans & Dixon, McAnany Van Cleve & Phillips PC and Nu-Era Group LLC. Space is currently listed for lease at $13.50 psf.

Sperry Van Ness/Infinity Commercial to Open a Downtown Office

Also mentioned in the Business Journal's article on the sale of the Millenium Center is that Sperry Van Ness/Infinity Commercial Group - the firm that represented the seller of the building - will be opening a satellite office downtown in 2008. The firm has apparently targeted downtown as a growth market.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Downtown Demo

The city's Preservation Board will be granting approval to demolish this small, but handsome, building at 2217 Olive at its meeting next Tuesday. The owners wish to use the land as a parking lot for an adjacent business. The Board initially denied the demolition application but will be granting approval of the building's owners, stating, "the building has suffered catastrophic parapet and roof failure on the western side and is an imminent danger to public safety."

While the building may seem small and insignificant, it is located in an area that has seen a remarkable amount of rehab activity in recent years. Its relatively small size makes it a good candidate for renovation, and the small vacant lot to its east would be ideal for a small-scale, complementary infill project. Instead, more of the historic fabric of this little section of downtown will be destroyed in favor of more parking spaces, which are already abundant in this area.

Additional building information and commentary from Ecology of Absence: Link

The Preservation Board's recommendation: Link

Old Post Office Square

Last summer, construction began on Old Post Office Plaza on a vacant lot across Locust from the Old Post Office. While many would have preferred to see this site used for new construction and added density to the Old Post Office district, it should be a nice project nonetheless.

When all is said and done, this $8.2 million public square will include sculpture, landscaping, seating and water features. Completion was originally scheduled for April 2008, but judging from the current progress on the site, it may take a bit longer to complete, especially if the weather is not cooperative.

While Old Post Office Plaza will no doubt be an asset to the area, it remains to be seen whether or not it will spur additional development nearby. The exciting Roberts Tower is being built immediately adjacent to the site, but just a block away there are two vacant parcels at 7th and Locust, one a surface parking lot, the other the pointless U.S. Bank Plaza, which is more like a landscaped driveway. With its relatively small size, the parking lot would probably be better suited for a residential tower while the U.S. Bank Plaza, which was once the site of the Ambassador Building, could accomodate either an office or residential building. That is, of course, if U.S. Bank would be willing to part with it.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Downtown Could Use Some More Commercial Real Estate Firms

Out of the top 26 commerical real estate firms in the St. Louis area (according to the St. Louis Business Journal's Book of Lists), only two - Jones Lang LaSalle and EVS Realty Advisors call downtown St. Louis their home. A third firm, Balke Brown, has its offices relatively close to downtown in the Highlands development near Forest Park. The vast majority of commercial real estate firms are located in Clayton or Mid-County, with a handful scattered elsewhere.

Having an office in Clayton or Mid-County does have certain benefits for commercial real estate brokers, the most significant being that its central location makes for a relatively short drive to properties in just about any part of the St. Louis area. For example, a downtown office may be far from ideal for an industrial broker who spends most of his time visiting warehouses in Earth City. However, it is somewhat disconcerting to see that the larger firms such as Colliers Turley Martin Tucker and CB Richard Ellis do not maintain even a small presence in downtown St. Louis.

There are numerous instances of companies that generally locate their offices in the downtowns of other cities choosing suburban locations for their St. Louis offices instead (a few of which have been documented here), giving the impression that (with some exceptions) brokers here make little effort to promote downtown St. Louis and steer their clients to suburban buildings almost by default. In St. Louis, our own residents tend to be our own worst enemies, and this may be yet another instance of that. Are local brokers really prepared to work with clients who actually WANT to be downtown?

Perhaps the establishment of downtown satellite offices for the larger firms would allow St. Louis area real estate brokers to better get a feel for the pulse of the CBD and all it has to offer prospective tenants. It is important to note that Zimmer Real Estate Services recently opened an office in downtown St. Louis and Cardinal Realty will be opening a satellite office in the Shell Building, which will hopefully spur other firms to consider downtown.

The Highway 40 Closing: Much Ado About Nothing?

It's day one of the Highway 40 closing, and by most accounts, everything seems to be going off without a hitch. Officials expect traffic to pick up next Monday, but hopefully commuters will adapt quickly to their new routes and the closing of Highway 40 will go down with the 1999 visit of Pope John Paul II as just another case of the local media blowing things way out of proportion. If this process can go relatively smoothly, it could bode well for the leasing of downtown office space in the near term, as prospective tenants who may have been reluctant to move downtown becuase of traffic issues will have their fears assuaged.